Corina Benavides López
Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Sabas Luna was born in 1939, in Tlaltenango [de Sánchez Román], Zacatecas, México; his parents were campesinos whose main crop was corn, and he was the fourth of nine children; he was formally educated through the fourth grade, during which time he also helped his parents work the land; when he was eighteen, he followed in his father’s footsteps and enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arkansas, California, and Texas, picking avocado, cotton, lemons, and tomatoes; he also worked at a dairy caring for livestock; in the late sixties he immigrated to the United States with his family.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Luna recounts his childhood and adolescence, particularly his experiences as a young campesino; he recalls his dad working as a bracero, which helped his family financially, but left him without a father’s guidance; consequently, he and his older brother had to care for the family and show their younger siblings how to work; at eighteen, he obtained his first bracero contract in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, which took him to Arkansas; it rained too much there for him to earn any money; the following year, he went through a center in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, which took him to a dairy farm just outside of Amarillo, Texas, where he stayed for three years; he initially hesitates to talk about how he was treated at the contracting centers, but he goes on to describe being stripped, medically examined, and deloused, which he found offensive; moreover, he details the various worksites, living conditions, provisions, housing, duties, daily routines, contract renewals, payments, remittances, and recreational activities; after the program ended, he met and married his wife; he stayed with a longing to return to the United States and make a better life for himself and his family; in the late sixties he and his family moved to United States; he notes that he is grateful he did not have a wife or family at the time, because it would have been too difficult; he concludes by stating that the history of a bracero is that of a worker who suffered greatly.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Sabas Luna by Corina Benavides López, 2006, "Interview no. 1173," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.